06/30/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

St. Vincent's Hospital Closes For Good

NEW YORK (Associated Press) - St. Vincent's Hospital, a 160-year institution in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, closed for good Friday after months of feuding and years of financial struggles.

"Closed" signs were posted on its double doors at about 8:15 a.m. An emergency room sign was removed, as was a large blue St. Vincent's flag next to the ER doors.

About 100 people, including nurses, doctors, other hospital workers and neighborhood residents, crowded outside. Some took pictures of the building.

St. Vincent's closing means the nearest top-level trauma center is two miles away.

"I have no job. I'm unemployed. It's over," Eileen Dunn, a St. Vincent's nurse for 24 years, said shortly before the closing. "It's like a funeral inside. Most of us have been here for many years."

The emergency room treated 43 patients overnight, sending two to other hospitals. About 25 hospital workers were in the ER when it closed.

Since it opened in 1849, the famed Manhattan hospital has treated cholera victims, survivors of the Titanic and hundreds of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. It also was at the forefront of the early response to the AIDS epidemic.

"There's a lot of heartbroken people inside the ER. ... They have been the heart and soul of this hospital for many years," Dunn said. "I think on 9/11 we saw what hatred could do. We're seeing today what greed and politics can do to a hospital."

The city deployed extra ambulances to the area to bring emergency cases to other hospitals; two were stationed near St. Vincent's in case someone mistakenly comes for care.

Earlier this month, St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, which ran the hospital, filed for bankruptcy, the debt topping $1 billion.

Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital is getting more than $9 million in state money to open a 24-hour urgent care facility in the neighborhood, but it's not clear when.

Richard Poole, a resident from midtown Manhattan, said he came to witness the closing of a hospital that he said "saved my life twice."

"My thing is that Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg could afford to bail this hospital out. He's a billionaire ... this is the best hospital," Poole said.

"It's a very sad day for the population here on the lower West Side because when this ER closes everybody's unsafe," Dunn said.

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